At the centre of our universe is balance. Rich or poor, hard or soft, clingy or indifferent, we are forever looking to attain the perfect equilibrium to make our lives better. Cause too much of anything can result in stress and burnout. Sometimes in the race towards this crucial equilibrium, we forget to ration the most important resource – Time.
A study carried out by Gallup showed that 23% of employees felt burnt out every week, and 44% reported feeling burnout sometimes. This goes double for working parents who, after a busy working day or week, then have a million and one things to do for the family: helping with homework, housework, shopping and entertaining.
However, while some tend to find time between all the madness to catch up on their favourite sports or head out with friends for a beer (Pandemic permitting), Traditionally, a larger portion of women have looked at the concept of me-time as being selfish.
Then there is this constant urge to push through the to-do lists, completing dozens of tasks based on what everyone needs before tackling their own. Sounds familiar?
There are only a few hours in the day, and taking time away from family or work is ‘wasted’ time, cue a massive proportion of guilt. What can be done when there are more urgent tasks than meditating or taking a bath or reading a book? Here again, the years of subtle conditioning of women being the nurturer comes to play. So, they continue to give and give and give until they have nothing to give anymore!
American novelist Eleanor Brown aptly puts this, ‘Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel'
What is this me-time?
In one line, it means time spent doing something you do for only yourself! It could be spending time writing, reading or painting, having a hot bath, going for a long walk or sitting in a quiet room meditating. Something that helps you to unclutter your brain and unwind. By resting your mind, you are allowing it to recharge, enabling you to be more creative and more productive. There is enough scientific evidence that constant stress leads to your 'body' being in flight or fight mode, which further leads to adrenaline and cortisol production. These hormones shut down all the non-essential functions of your body and brain, including your digestive systems and the part of the brain which makes hormones like Dopamine (the pursuing, achieving, wanting hormone) and Oxytocin (trusted, safe and connected).
More often than not, we humans identify ‘time’ in terms of tasks, ‘I will relax when I’m done answering all my mail.’, ‘I just need to help children finish their homework.’, ‘I’ll put my feet up after I am done ordering groceries.’ But the thing is, tasks never end! There would always be something critical or ‘should get it done activities that’d demand your attention.
There are a couple of hacks that’d help you get the elusive time and help you recharge your brain.
Finding the time for me
1) Make your lists – I usually do it in three lots - Urgent, can survive another day, I want to do this. If you can get yourself to make this list, then you can see the tasks that you want to do for yourself as rewards. For every five urgent tasks that you must do, you can do one which you really want.
2) Schedule your me-time – We are corporate junkies who live on meetings and milestones. Unfortunately, we’ve stopped paying attention to our bodies and mind, and have gotten used to this regimented life! Not to worry, schedule your me time! Put a block of time in your calendar, which would let you do what you want (read, write, binge watch Netflix) without feeling guilty or without the intrusion of other tasks.
3) Delegate, delegate, delegate – It is not your responsibility to do everything! Humans are a creature of habits and like things getting done a particular way. But would it make a difference if your son left a speck of dust on the drawers or your partner forgot to wipe the dishes? Who really is judging the laundry piled in a corner?
4) Do not underestimate minutes: The me-time doesn’t need to be counted in chunks of hours. Getting out of your chair, stepping out in the sun for 10 minutes. Being mindful of the kettle boiling and having your cuppa in relative quietness. Reading a chapter of a book that has been gathering dust! It could just be five minutes of meditation.
Yeah, it is easy for me to say, but really where is the time? Yada yada yada. Honestly, the biggest obstacle standing between you and your me-time is You. Ask yourself, is this really so urgent? What would give you joy, the vacuuming that you’ve been procrastinating for a while or taking a leisure walk in the sun?
Take the time to replenish your energy. When you kick ass at all the tasks, you can thank me.